The economy has certainly forced all of us to tighten our belts. Here’s another sign of the financial times: New-home builders are building smaller houses. Why? Because they want to stay in business! Thirty years ago, the average single-family home was 1,700 square feet. They’re now 50% bigger. In fact, if your house was built in the last decade, you have four times more living space than in any house built right after World War II. According to the Los Angeles Times, foreclosed houses are selling at fire-sale prices, and that’s pulling down other home prices. So, going smaller is a quick way to make a high-priced product cheaper. In fact, many builders say their clients are asking for smaller homes, and nine out of 10 builders say they’re already building - or planning to build - smaller, lower-priced homes.
According to the American Institute of Architects, the shift toward smaller houses started before the economic downturn. As the housing market began to slump, people stopped seeing their house as a good investment – and started considering it more of a cash drain. Bigger houses are not only more expensive to buy, they’re more expensive to heat and cool, property taxes are higher, insurance is more expensive, and they’re harder to maintain. Already, 30% of homes are under-maintained because the upkeep’s too expensive. In fact, it used to be that couples getting divorced fought over who got to keep the house. Now, more of them are fighting over who has to keep it. On the flip side, a smaller home is more affordable, more energy-efficient, cheaper to furnish, and easier to keep clean. Living in a smaller space also encourages you to be more selective about the things you buy – because you have less space to put them in.